HomeNews

News Search

Spooky gunship armed with new cannons

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek and Master Sgt. Chris Jette look over a newly-installed 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Sergeant Filek is an aerial gunner with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. Sergeant Jette, also an aerial gunner, is with the 1st Special Operations Group standardization/evaluation section at Hurlburt Field. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek and Master Sgt. Chris Jette look over a newly-installed 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Sergeant Filek is an aerial gunner with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. Sergeant Jette, also an aerial gunner, is with the 1st Special Operations Group standardization/evaluation section at Hurlburt Field. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek practices loading a 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. Sergeant Filek is an aerial gunner with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek practices loading a 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. Sergeant Filek is an aerial gunner with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek works on a newly-installed 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship as Tech. Sgt. James Knight looks on Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Both Airmen are aerial gunners with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek works on a newly-installed 30 mm Bushmaster cannon aboard an AC-130U Spooky gunship as Tech. Sgt. James Knight looks on Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Both Airmen are aerial gunners with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Master Sgt. Chris Jette explains loading procedures for a 30mm Bushmaster cannon for an AC-130U Spooky gunship to Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek while Tech. Sgt. James Knight looks on Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. Sergeant Jette is an aerial gunner with the 1st Special Operations Group standardization/evaluation section at Hurlburt Field, Sergeants Filek and Knight are aerial gunners with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Master Sgt. Chris Jette explains loading procedures for a 30mm Bushmaster cannon for an AC-130U Spooky gunship to Tech. Sgt. Ben Filek while Tech. Sgt. James Knight looks on Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. Sergeant Jette is an aerial gunner with the 1st Special Operations Group standardization/evaluation section at Hurlburt Field, Sergeants Filek and Knight are aerial gunners with the 19th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Bushmaster 30 mm cannons protrude from the gunports of an AC-130U Spooky gunship during tests Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

Bushmaster 30 mm cannons protrude from the gunports of an AC-130U Spooky gunship during tests Jan. 26 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 30 mm gun will eventually replace both the 40 mm cannon and 25 mm gun on U-model gunships. (U.S. Air Force photo/Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNEWS) -- Spooky is about to get a little scarier.

Crews at Hurlburt Field have put the finishing touches on the first AC-130U Spooky gunship armed with the 30 mm Bushmaster cannon. The rearmed Spooky retains its 105 mm cannon but replaces the 25 mm and 40 mm guns with Bushmasters.

The project is a "win-win," according to Air Force Special Operations Command officials -- unless you're one of the bad guys.

"We're buying increased lethality and accuracy at the same time we're improving reliability," said Lt. Col. Mike Gottstine, AFSOC's chief of strike/intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements, "The bottom line is we'll have more gunships available for the warfighter on a day-to-day basis."

The aging 40 mm Bofors cannon, which has been around in various guises since World War II, is increasingly hard to maintain, Colonel Gottstine said, and there is no production line set up to replace shrinking ammunition stocks. While the 25 mm gun is newer, he said, "it is a maintenance hog as far as the amount of money and time we spend maintaining the ammo handling system." In addition, because no other Air Force aircraft use the 25 mm cannon, no one is working on developing new types of ammunition that could be effective for gunship operations, he said.

The Bushmaster cannon, on the other hand, will arm the Marine Corps' new amphibious assault vehicle, is installed on some Navy ships and is being looked at for uses in other capacities. Because of that, "the services are developing a lot of variations of 30 mm ammo," Colonel Gottstine said. "Different types of ammo will allow us to perform different missions or maybe give us some options to prosecute our targets differently."

The 25 mm cannon was originally installed in gunships as a suppression weapon to keep enemy troops pinned down so they could not move or shoot, said Paul Brousseau, AFSOC AC-130U requirements contractor support. However, the 25 mm has no air burst capability, which is often preferable for suppression fire, he said. "The Marine Corps is looking at a 30 mm airburst round that could possibly be a good capability for us sometime in the future," he said.

The new cannon fires 200 rounds a minute, faster than the 40 mm and a bit slower than the 25 mm guns it replaces, Colonel Gottstine said. "The 25 mm throws a lot of lead down but it scatters it more than the 30 mm will. We're expecting increased lethality and increased accuracy with this weapon," he said. "Hits are what counts."

Gunners from the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field are ready to put their new weapon to the test.

"It's going to be fun, it's going to be interesting," said Master Sgt. Chris Jette, an aerial gunner with 1st Special Operations Group standardization/evaluation. "Overall, we don't know what the round actually does from our platform until they do the testing, but it looks like it's going to be good."

"I'm impressed with how easy it is to work on," said Tech. Sgt. Ben Lerman, an aerial gunner with the 4th Special Operations Squadron. "Hopefully, it will make our job as gunners easier. Commonality between the (forward and rear guns) means we will have interchangeability of parts so we can fix them in the air."

The ability to perform repairs while airborne is important, Sergeant Jette said.

"We can actually troubleshoot and repair the front gun where, with the 25 mm, once it breaks we can't do anything to it," he said.

The 30 mm-armed AC-130U will undergo flight testing through May. It should be declared operational and in the hands of "U-boat" crews from the 4th SOS in July, Mr. Brousseau said. Three more modified U-model gunships will join the fleet by December 2007, he said.

The rest of the fleet will be modified as funding is available, with installation probably in the mid-2009 time frame, he said. The fleetwide modification should be complete by fiscal 2010, he said.

The desired goal is to eventually install the 30 mm cannons on AFSOC's AC-130H Spectre fleet as well, Colonel Gottstine said.

Comment on this story (comments may be published on Air Force Link)

Click here to view the comments/letters page

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@20FighterWing votes for #NapoleonDynamite as they welcomed Jon and Doug Heder to the base. https://t.co/I8wZLFGE5T https://t.co/Un04Fz1tra
RT @DeptofDefense: Preparation is key. Who you prepare with is, too. @USAirForce airmen recently trained with their Filipino 🇵🇭 counterpart…
.@LukeAFB Lightning integrated technicians utilize cross functional teams to unify #maintenance specialties, increa… https://t.co/m4Vni22u4h
A new storage facility @TeamMisawa allows propulsions #Airmen the ability to rapidly provide F-16 Fighting Falcon e… https://t.co/xEnuApKS45
The nation’s most elite, #USAF #HonorGuard team, recently debuted their 2019 routine! (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemb… https://t.co/QxwpQdczUO
20 @AFSpecOpsCmd #Airmen will ruck from TX to FL in honor of Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, a #SpecialTactics… https://t.co/bbti0C2Nlm
#Doyouevenlift? We do! @AirMobilityCmd #C17s recently delivered #hope on its way to the man-made humanitarian crisi… https://t.co/b1GicnXJ3l
.@AFWERX & @Techstars announce the 10 companies participating in #techaccelerator. See how they're working to solve… https://t.co/BCdoR4Cmmt
RT @DeptofDefense: These probably aren’t the FRIES you’re used to. @USArmy Special Forces operators practice their skills with the Fast Ro…
RT @AFEnergy: From installations, to propulsion, to maintenance, to research... engineers are critical to every part of the @usairforce mis…
.@HAFB #Airmen and the F-35 are a lethal combo during exercise Red Flag. For more about the exercise:… https://t.co/nc7F82hPI8
A B-2 Spirit bomber, deployed from @Whiteman_AFB, is staged on the flightline @JointBasePHH, Jan. 30, 2019. (… https://t.co/SVPJe2AfGH
#USAF, @USMC & @USArmy air & ground force elements train together, strengthen skills in the field and sky. #Joint… https://t.co/Arm1IXIaDy
#DYK: @DMAFB is one of seven #AirForce bases w/forward area refueling point capabilities, and there are only 63 qua… https://t.co/UI2SzoYdjA
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Anyone out there watch Super Bowl LIII? Well, @USNorthernCmd and NORAD fighter aircraft kept the airspace safe during t…
#AirForce formalizes policy on retention of non-deployable Airmen. https://t.co/O8yfj5acRt https://t.co/7t5ynNMgo2
It's a 2-way street! Find out how our #ProfessionalDevelopment Teams are a benefit to both mentor and mentee.… https://t.co/nxmtpZWnis